Friday, 30 July 2010

Arcades Upgrade in the works

stnicholas_arcades0710.jpgPlans for a multi-milion revamp of St. Nicholas Arcades in Lancaster are on display until Saturday (31st July) in the old Adams store.

Owners Rockspring, who have owned the arcade since 2004, have announced a £2.7 million plan to revamp the Arcades that will include a two-story NEXT and the creation of two other large new units would also be developed as part of the proposals.

Rockspring believe the scheme will address the lack of large retail units in the city centre as well as helping to prevent loss of trade to other towns. Although the 107,000 square foot retail Arcades have attracted a wide range of retailers since it opened and remains a busy shopping area in the town, a few units are currently empty (View an interactive map here).

The Lancaster Guardian reports Rockspring's European director Rod Mordey is "really excited" by the proposals and the plans have been welcomed by the Chamber of Commerce.

"There's no doubt that the retail offer in Lancaster at the moment is weaker than we would like it to be and this allows us to deal with that," Centre manager Jerry North told the paper.

"Next have had a longstanding requirement in Lancaster for a better fascia and we won't have any difficulties with the other units we are creating because there's interest out there for units of that scale which we haven't been able to provide for before."

Rockspring bought St. Nicholas Arcades in 2004 for over £20 million, working with the award-winning Edinburgh-based independent company Ediston Properties, whose client list also includes Royal Bank of Scotland, Henderson Global Investors and Schroder.

NEXT will take the largest unit in the new development which will be three times bigger than its current Cheapside store.

The proposals, which will probably be submitted to the Council next month, would also see the closure the pedestrian entrance to the centre from Great John Street, but an improved access point from Church Street. (Before St. Nicholas Arcades was built, access from Great John Street was by a stairwell, but we are unsure if the original street layout before that was ever considered a public right of way).

Rockspring have also revealed a new walkway would also replace Perpignan Way at the back of the centre. Some existing including Evans, Hallmark and Rastelli's cafe would be relocated.

The Guardian reports that a decision on the planning application would be made in November and if successful, building work would then begin in January 2011, to be completed by September 2011.

Existing shops will continue to trade if the development goes ahead.

• The plans are currently on show in the centre's former Adam's store between until 5.00pm on Saturday 31st July.

Read the full Lancaster Guardian news story

Shopmobility back in action in Lancaster and Morecambe

Council leader Stuart Langhorn, Jo Williams (project manager of One Voice) Steve Wright (Wrightcare Mobility), Julia Reay (Lonsdale Carers) and Natalie Jones (volunteer) celebrate the start of the new Lancaster and Morecambe Shopmobility service. Photo courtesy Lancaster City Council
Some good news at a time when many public services are under threat - Lancaster City Council has teamed up with local organisation One Voice to bring back the popular Shopmobility service.

The service, which is funded by Lancaster City Council, was suspended earlier this year when the previous operator was unable to continue its contract.

One Voice has now agreed to take over the service, funded by a £12,300 grant from the city council, and will be offering a new and enhanced service in Lancaster and Morecambe.

The service, which will resume on 10th Agust, will be operating from The Cornerstone in Dalton Square on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9.30am to 4pm, and from the Cartmel Centre in Morecambe on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9.30am to 4pm.

“When the previous provider announced it was no longer able to continue the service it came as a big blow both to the city council and people who had come to rely on the service," notes Coun Stuart Langhorn, leader of Lancaster City Council.

“We were very keen to see the service started again and are grateful to One Voice for coming forward and agreeing to work with the council to bring it back.”

Jo Williams, project manager at One Voice, added: “This is an opportunity to develop this service into a real community project and we hope to expand the service over the coming months.”

• To ensure that equipment can be guaranteed please call Lancaster and Morecambe Shopmobility to book on 01524 382764. For more information on the service visit

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Drug swallowing dealer jailed for five years

anthony-mason-290710.jpgA man who tried to hide a stash of drugs from police officers by swallowing his stash has been jailed for over five years.

32-year-old Anthony Mason was stopped by target team officers in Galgate, Lancaster, on 1st April 2010. The officers believed Mason, of Chalice Way, Liverpool, had drugs 'secreted' on his person (to put it politely) and he was taken into custody at Lancaster police station.

Mason was held in cells for 13 days – with officers being granted three extensions by Lancaster Magistrates – until the drugs were 'revealed' and he was able to be charged.

He appeared at Preston Crown Court this month, and was yesterday (Thursday) jailed for 2,045 days having pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine with intent to supply and possessing heroin with intent to supply.

“Mason was carrying a substantial amount of drugs on him when he was stopped," noted PC Trev Walker of Lancaster police, "but due to their location we had to wait a considerable length of time before we had the evidence needed to charge him.

"He was constantly monitored for his own safety as the actions he had taken to hide the drugs in order to peddle them on our streets could have potentially proved fatal.

"Drugs and drug dealing have a really negative impact on our communities," PC Walker added. "If anyone has concerns about drug dealing in their neighbourhood, I would urge them to contact police.”

• Anyone with information about drug dealing is asked to contact police on 01523 63333 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Halton's Eco-housing scheme Gets Go-Ahead

Members of local community group Lancaster Cohousing are celebrating after Lancaster City Council's planning committee approved their plans to redevelop a 2.5 hectare derelict site by the River Lune at Halton, near Lancaster, to provide 40 new private homes, shared indoor and outdoor space and managed business space. The cohousing group is a mix of individuals, couples and families of all ages whose aim is to build eco-homes of a cutting edge sustainable design and create a friendly, supportive neighbourhood.

"This is a really important milestone for us," says Project manager Jon Sear. "It means we can now start the detailed design work, get the necessary funding agreements in place and appoint a building contractor to work with us.

"If people wish to join the project, there are still a few homes available to buy and business units to rent."

The one-bedroom flats, and two and three-bedroom terraced houses will be built to the super-insulated Passivhaus standard and will form the largest Passivhaus development in the UK. Together with the hydro scheme being developed with the local community, this design will ensure a very low carbon footprint.

Each household will have their own home and there will also be shared facilities, including a laundry, child care area and workshops, and a common house, where residents can, if they wish, cook and eat together. This mix will ensure residents have their own space whilst encouraging social contact enabling them to build connections with their neighbours.

The derelict factory building on site, covering an area of 1200 square meteres, is to be refurbished to provide a mixture of serviced workshops, offices and studios for small businesses, organisations and individuals. Located in an attractive area, the units will enjoy a local and personal management service, shared facilities and a zero carbon energy supply, and will be available on flexible terms.

Construction on the site should begin early in 2011, aiming for completion of 34 of the 40 homes by Spring 2012.

For more info:

Festival Market Cafe seeks Loyal Customers!

Rebecca's Café at Morecambe's Festival Market has launched a fabulous new loyalty scheme.

Starting this week, every time you buy a hot drink from the café from now until the end of September, you will be given a stamp on a loyalty card. Collect just six stamps to receive a free hot drink of your choice.

Rebecca's joins several local eateries offering loyalty schemes: Juice Cafe in Lancaster's Market Street and Rastelli's Cafe in St. Nicholas Arcade run such schemes, first popularized by coffee chains.

Rebecca’s café specialises in wonderful home made cakes (which I have tried and they're very nice!) and has a special offer on at the present time of fish, chips and mushy peas for the very reasonable price of £3.50, thought to be the cheapest in town. If you need to cool down, they also sell giant English Lakes ice cream cones for only £1 including chocolate flake.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Carnforth set for a Clean Sweep

Carnforth is being given a summer ‘Clean Sweep’, thanks to the Lancaster District Community Safety Partnership, building on ongoing work to improve the quality of life of those living in the town.

Residents say they are particularly concerned about anti-social behaviour on the Highfield Estate, Market Street and around the cenotaph area.

Following up on these worries, under the CSP’s ‘Clean Sweep’ operation, staff from partner agencies such as Lancaster City Council and Lancashire Police, along with members of the Highfield Residents Association, did a walk-through the Highfield estate earlier this month.

The team looked at overgrown hedges, abandoned vehicles, fire hazards, run down properties and places that were at risk from anti-social behaviour and drug and alcohol abuse. They noticed a number of ways in which they could make the estate better for its residents and over the coming weeks they say they will be doing what they can to carry out these improvements. Some have already been made.

Lancaster City Council’s Council Housing team will be helping tenants to tidy up gardens and make repairs where they are needed, and will also be working with the Probation Service through the Community Pay Back scheme to cut back weeds and over-hanging hedges.

The police will continue to provide a high visibility yet welcoming presence on the estate, to promote a feeling of safety amongst residents and visitors.

“A clean and tidy area can do so much to improve the way people feel about the place in which they live," says Councillor Eileen Blamire who is Chair of the Lancaster District Community Safety Partnership.

"The Community Safety Partnership is not only about reducing crime and fear of crime but aims to improve our community by making the area a cleaner and better place in which to live.”

“If an area looks more attractive then people will take more pride in it," feels local Police Community Support Officer Sarah Leverton. "We then tend to then see a fall in crime and anti-social behaviour, which in turn helps to keep the area looking good. If everyone works together we can maintain these standards on the estate.”

• For more information on the work of the Lancaster District Community Safety Partnership visit

• The next Police and Community Together meeting for Carnforth is on 4th August at the Civic Hall, North Road,Carnforth LA5 9LJ (usually first Wednesday of the month), starting at 6.30pm

Fare freeze on local Hackney cabs

The cost of catching a Hackney cab in the Lancaster district will remain the same after Lancaster City Council decided to freeze fares.

Members of the council’s Licensing Regulatory Committee decided to keep daytime fares the same at £2.30 for the first 880 yards and 20p for each subsequent 240 yards, meaning the cost of the first mile will remain at £3.03.

Night time and Christmas tariffs will also remain the same.

The possibility of fare rises was first raised in June, and the proposals were put out to public consultation. There was one objection to the plan, from Mr Dixon, director of 848848 Taxis, who felt that a fare increase in the current economic climate would damage the taxi industry in the district.

Some committee members still favoured a fare rise but the increase was voted down in favour of a freeze.

“Deciding whether to raise fares is always a balancing act between making sure the travelling public get a fair deal and the taxi trade is able to make a fair profit," notes Morecambe Bay Independent Councillor Tony Wade, chairman of the Committee.

“This year we received representations from the taxi trade asking for a fare freeze due to the current economic climate.

“The committee took these views into account and decided to keep fares at the current level.”

Junior zookeepers wanted at Williamson Park!

Be a Junior Zookeeper at Wiliamson Park, lancaster this summer

Budding junior zoologists are being given the opportunity to go behind the scenes and see how Williamson Park’s Mini Zoo and Butterfly House run.

The three week course - aimed at children aged eight to 14 years old - is for children who are interested in learning more about animals and provides an insight into the work involved in running a small zoo.

The junior zoo keepers will get involved in feeding the animals and will learn how to handle them safely. They will learn some fantastic facts about the animals as well as having great fun with the team from Williamson Park.

Lancaster City Council say this unique course is expected to be very popular and with limited places available so please book as early as possible to guarantee your child’s place.

There are four separate courses running monthly from August. The course takes place on Sundays from 11am-noon over a three week period and costs £20.

The first course starts on 8th, 15th, 22nd August. The second course takes place on 12th, 19th and 26th September. Another course runs on 10th, 17th and 24th October and the final course takes place on 14th, 21st and 28th November.

• To book a place please telephone Williamson Park on 01524 33318 or visit and click on the news and events page for more information.